Bystanders come to aid of motorcyclist flung over Highway 101 onramp bridge

A motorcyclist Sunday morning was flung over a Highway 101 onramp bridge and fell 35 feet into Santa Rosa Creek, where bystanders say they helped save him from drowning.

The rider, 34-year-old Mike Anthony Shea of Petaluma, remained in critical condition Sunday night at Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, according to hospital officials.

He crashed as he was trying to enter the southbound lanes of the highway using the Third Street onramp shortly after 9 a.m. His 2004 Suzuki crashed for an unknown reason, slid across the road and lodged in the east guardrail, CHP Officer Marcus Hawkins said. At some point, the crash sent the man flying over the opposite guard rail and into the creek, which flows under the onramp, Hawkins said.

At first, nobody could find him, as his motorcycle ended up on the opposite side of the road, said Gannon Orton, who was approaching the freeway when the crash occurred. He pulled over to join in a search for Shea.

A homeless man later told officers that he was near the creek when he heard a motorcycle revving and saw a man fall from the sky, face-first, into the creek.

A man who lives in the neighborhood and was jogging along the creek on the Prince Memorial Greenway said he saw Shea in the water around the same time as a man who appeared to be homeless.

He rushed into the creek to help Shea, who was unconscious in a motorcycle helmet and protective gear and was facedown in several inches of water, said the man, who did not give his name.

Hearing someone shout, Orton ran down to help. Along with another person, they were able to remove the helmet and position Shea so he could breathe, he said. Shea then coughed up water and regained consciousness. They kept him in the creek to minimize potential spinal injuries until medics arrived. Medics took Shea to the hospital, where he remains.

Orton and others said Shea narrowly missed hitting deadlier objects, such as metal railings and the large rocks that line the creek.

He said he was impressed with how everyone came together to help. “I’m no hero,” he said. “I was just there. The jogger, he was really the guy.”

The crash forced a closure of the ramp, near the connector to Highway 12, until about 10:15 a.m., according to the CHP.

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